Since 2008, YBB has equipped thousands of incarcerated youth and adults with the physical and mental tools to change their lives from the inside out.








The U.S. is the world’s largest jailer.

Did you know that more than 2.2 million people in the United States are behind bars? Incarceration has increasingly become an inefficient panacea for many other social issues such as mental illness, racism, poverty, homelessness, and drug addiction. Yoga Behind Bars is committed to breaking this cycle of trauma-stress-prison. Our programs give people behind bars the opportunity to heal, grow, and prepare for their return to our communities by addressing a root cause of incarceration: trauma.


Mass Incarceration

In The United States


In short, yoga and meditation work.

Many youth and adults in prison have long and painful histories of trauma, going all the way back to their early childhood, and past generations. Yet there are very few resources provided to safely integrate this unresolved trauma. More than 90% of people behind bars return to society. But within 3 years, 60% return to prison or jail.

We urgently need to stop this cycle of repeated incarceration and offer programs that truly create wholeness, safety, and belonging. We are proud to be part of a movement that encourages us to think and act differently, to reimagine our criminal justice system. Our trauma-informed and resilience-building methodology offers practical inner tools people can use anywhere. It works.

In addition to the physical benefits and improved overall well-being, yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven to:

  • Drastically reduce rates of recidivism, people who practice yoga and meditation behind bars are less likely to return to prison once they have finished their sentence
  • Only 8% of individuals who took 4 or more yoga classes returned to prison, compared with a national average of 60% recidivism.
  •  Reduce depression, anger, and anxiety, often a root cause of destructive behavior and drug use.
  • Be an effective adjunctive therapy during treatment for drug addiction, which is a co-factor in many of our students’ incarceration.

Our definition of Trauma-Informed Yoga
We define trauma-informed yoga as offering accessible embodiment practices that encourage participants to reclaim their agency through choice, inclusion, and nervous-system regulation. Rather than merely addressing emotional and physical symptoms of trauma, our classes focus on well-being, possibility, and choice. Our instructors have sensitivity and awareness of trauma, and understand its impact on the entire mind-body system. They fully integrate knowledge into their teaching practices to move towards well-being, and actively resist re-traumatization.

“Trauma sensitive yoga can be incredibly powerful in the healing of a woman who has experienced significant hardship whether incarcerated or not.”

– Staff member at Washington Corrections Center for Women, 2016


Yoga Behind Bars by the numbers

Our team of 100+ volunteer instructors and 11 incarcerated teachers, currently reach an average of 250 students through 37 classes weekly, in 18 different facilities in 13 Washington State Counties each week. We teach at all custody levels, maximum, medium, and minimum, as well as solitary confinement.

Students Reached Annually

Our students give this work meaning. Each year we teach thousands of incarcerated people yoga, and bring meditation and asanas to a variety of populations, including youth, the mental health unit at the women’s prison, the Veteran’s pod at Kent Jail, and men in solitary at the Monroe prison.

People trained through YBB

Our 17-hour Trauma-Informed Yoga Training is a program for people interested in offering and experiencing inclusive, resilience-building approaches to yoga. People from around the country come to study with us and apply what they learn in a variety of places– including social service settings, community centers, homeless shelters, and schools. And, beyond Washington State, people have started their own programs inspired by YBB in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, West Virginia, and even Kenya.

Incarcerated Teachers Trained

In August of 2015, 10 men from 5 different prisons around the state were transferred to Stafford Creek Corrections Center to start their training. They graduated in February 2016 and are now teaching yoga classes at 5 facilities across the state. In October of 2016, 10 women at Washington Corrections Center for Women started their training, and 5 of them graduated in April 2017.

Teach Behind Bars


18 Facilities across 13 Washington State counties.

Starting with one yoga teacher in Seattle’s downtown jail, we now offer classes in minimum, medium, and maximum custody, solitary confinement, mental health treatment units, as well as classes for incarcerated veterans. We also have a team of incarcerated yoga instructors, whom we’ve trained, teach inside their facilities. As an international leader in prison yoga, we offer a unique and practical roadmap for increased well-being, trauma recovery, and lasting social change. Every day youth and adults practice trauma-informed yoga and meditation through our programs. Below is a list of where we teach:

Clallam Bay Corrections Center

Monroe Correctional Complex

Washington State Reformatory

Stafford Creek Corrections Center

King County Correctional Facility

Maleng Regional Justice Center

Washington Corrections Center for Women

Federal Detention Center, SeaTac

King County Juvenile Detention Center

Echo Glen Children’s Center

Remann Hall

Denney Juvenile Justice Center

Airway Heights Corrections Center

Washington State Penitentiary

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

Washington Corrections Center

Whatcom County Juvenile Court

Washington Corrections Center in Shelton

Whatcom County Juvenile Detention Center


Lastly, the research to back it all up:


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But it starts with you and with each other.

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